From today on, there will be a significantly higher toll for heavy trucks on German motorways and federal highways. The usage fee now also includes a surcharge for the emission of climate-damaging carbon dioxide (CO2).
The basis for the specific additional costs depending on the vehicle's emissions is a surcharge of 200 euros per ton of CO2. The federal government expects billions in additional revenue from the new CO2 component, which will also flow to rail for the first time. The freight forwarding industry protested against the burdens and warned of rising consumer prices.
Changes should also provide incentives
The truck toll is calculated based on the distance traveled and a toll rate in cents per kilometer, which previously already included components for infrastructure costs as well as noise and air pollution. For the new CO2 surcharge, the trucks will be assigned to emission classes, as the federally owned toll operator Toll Collect explained. The background to the climate differentiation is an EU directive. The changes passed by the Bundestag are also intended to provide incentives for more cleaner trucks to be on the roads. Zero-emission trucks are exempt from tolls until the end of 2025. However, the transport industry complains that so far there are hardly any electric trucks and there are no charging points.
According to the traffic light coalition law passed in October, the increase will be followed by an expansion of the toll: from July 1, 2024, it will be due for smaller vans over 3.5 tons instead of the previous 7.5 tons. The Ministry of Transport estimates that 300,000 vehicles will now have to pay tolls. However, trips from craft businesses remain excluded. So far, around a million heavy trucks from home and abroad are on the road with on-board computers for toll collection.
Billions in revenue expected
In the future, the federal government will receive more money that can be reserved for transport investments regardless of uncertain budgetary situations. Expected revenue will jump from just under eight billion euros this year to more than 15 billion euros next year. From 2024 to 2027, additional income of 30.5 billion euros should be generated.
The use of the toll revenue will also be reorganized: half of the toll revenue will continue to be earmarked for improvements to federal highways - the rest will predominantly go to “measures in the area of federal railways,” as the draft law stated.
The freight forwarding industry has already taken a stand against the large increase, which would have to be passed on to customers. The Federal Ministry of Transport also expects this. However, toll costs only accounted for a small proportion of the transport costs and an even smaller proportion of the total costs of the end product, the bill said. Therefore, the impact on consumer price levels is “marginal”.